The Best Miami Restaurants For Date Night guide image


The Best Miami Restaurants For Date Night

Because you can do better than leftover Pollo Tropical and Nicolas Cage movies on the couch.

Whether you’re planning your thousandth date or trying to pick a spot to meet a stranger from an app who listed their occupation as three fire emojis, we can all agree that not all restaurants are ideal for romance. Many places are too loud for someone to hear about that one time you saw a bear in North Carolina. You might be seated uncomfortably close to a party of 24 celebrating several quinceañeras. Or worse, things are too quiet and you have to listen to each other slurp pasta for 45 minutes. The good news is you won’t have to worry about any of that at these spots. And even if that stranger you swiped right on ends up being 15 years older than they claimed, at least you’ll get some great food out of it.


photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

Jass Kitchen  review image

Jass Kitchen


190 NE 46th St, Miami
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With real candles, brick walls, and jazz playing at the perfect volume—Jass in Buena Vista is almost too perfect a date night spot. But luckily, there’s nothing pretentious about this place that’d make your date think you’re trying too hard. Despite the white tablecloths, Jass isn’t uptight at all. Plus, the Mediterranean restaurant serves good food too. Definitely order the clay pot of lamb, which comes encased in a dome of delicious brioche your server will slice open at the table. And know that the live music usually starts around 8:30, because that’s a big reason why you’re coming here too. 

Next Door is a wine bar run by (and right next door to) Key Biscayne’s Flour & Weirdoughs. And it’s a perfect option for a chill date with a bottle of wine and some excellent dishes involving bread. The menu is small, but as good as you’d expect from one of Miami’s best bakeries. They make a simple, outstanding choripan, eggplant escabeche served with sliced baguette and crispy baguette chips, and a few sourdough pizzas. Nothing on the menu costs more than $20 either. The space is small, but perfect for couples and not too loud to have a conversation. And if it’s nice out, they slide open the windows to take advantage of the ocean breeze. 

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We must warn you: there will be a wait at Katana. It will be long too (somewhere around an hour, most likely). This is always the case at this small, popular sushi restaurant, which never takes reservations. So why are we recommending it? We love it here, especially when we're drinking beer and sitting next to someone we really like. It's one of those sushi restaurants where the plates float through the dining room on a little stream and it’s a good intro to couple teamwork if you two aren’t quite assembling Ikea furniture yet. Different color plates cost different amounts, and if you see something you like, you simply reach out and grab it. There are always a ton of people on dates here because the counter seating is most comfortable for parties of two. And there is a bar conveniently located next door where you can have a beer and wait for the text that tells you your table is ready.

For something a little fancier involving sushi, consider Hiyakawa. It's not cheap, but the Wynwood spot is a good bet for a really delicious dinner in an environment perfect for that somewhat expensive article of clothing you haven't had a good excuse to wear yet. The first thing you'll notice when you walk in is the beautiful curvy wooden architecture that makes this place feel like a fancy cave. But eventually, your attention will turn to the food. The menu is broken up into a few categories—smaller appetizers, grilled and steamed dishes, fried dishes, soups, and some of the best sushi in Miami. Try to hit just about every section when placing an order—especially the sugata-mori appetizer. This place is quiet too, so conversation won't require shouting.

Key Biscayne's Vinya is the kind of casual-yet-fancy spot that'll really help you nail the "I'm trying, but not too hard" messaging of a date. There's indoor, outdoor, and bar seating that's all walk-in friendly. The wine selection is, obviously, great (with glasses for as low as $8). They also have excellent cocktails and beer too. But the food here is so much better than your average wine bar charcuterie. There are small plates, salads (including a gorgeous niçoise), and bigger entrees, like lobster thermidor sitting in a delicious gruyère sauce you get to mop up with slices of toasted brioche. It's never too loud to have a conversation inside, the service is attentive (but not suffocating), and it's pretty close to the beach in case you want the date to end in a sunset stroll, because you're just romantic like that. For a more formal version of this place, hit up their Gables location.

Maybe this isn't the first time you were taken on a date to a gas station (oh, high school, you were so weird) but it will be the best gas station date you'll ever go on. That's because inside this Coconut Grove gas station is El Carajo, a classic Spanish restaurant where you can drink wine, eat tapas, and have a generally wonderful time. There's an old school vibe to this place—so maybe skip it if you're looking for something new and trendy. But we've always had fun here eating bacon-wrapped dates, fluffy Spanish omelettes, crispy croquettes, and drinking a bottle of wine. Speaking of wine, there are tons of bottles for sale inside the gas station, which you can buy for your meal at retail price plus a $10 corkage fee.

Paradis is on our guide to The Best Bars For A First Date In Miami, but it's also an excellent place to eat too, so it makes not one but two date night guides. Obviously, what we're saying is: it's a good bet for a date. This is especially true if your idea of a perfect date involves tinned fish, square slices of delicious pizza, and wine. The North Miami spot is lowkey and quiet, with some snug indoor seating and more spacious outdoor tables. Wherever you sit, you’ll have no trouble hearing your date, who will assume you’re very cultured since you brought them to a wine bar with lots of books.

KruKrüs Kitchen in Coconut Grove is an absolutely pitch-perfect date spot. The space is intimate but not cramped—with a domed ceiling, scattered wooden tables, and shelves of natural wine and pantry supplies (which you can buy to-go, in case you want to continue the date at home). The menu is a seasonally rotating mix of crudos, pasta, and more. Because it changes often, we can't guarantee what you'll encounter here. But our last trip involved a hunk of fresh bread with anchovy/black garlic butter, smoked corn agnolotti, and what might be the best crudo in all of Miami—all incredibly delicious things that will make you sad to leave the table.

There are dates that require fancy clothes and special occasion spots, and then there are dates when you just want to have a beer, conversation, and maybe a phenomenal hot dog. For the latter kind of date, go to Off Site. It's a small beer bar in Little River that's laidback enough for a conversation, but not so boring that your date will fall asleep when you go use the bathroom. The only thing that's a possible distraction here is the menu, which consists of remarkably delicious bar food, including perfect versions of a hot dog, burger, wings, and a Cuban sandwich. If nothing else, you can both spend the date discussing how f*cking good that fried chicken sandwich was.

Jazz and pasta are date night staples, and you'll find both at this great Downtown spot. Whether a first or 50th date, you’ll be glad you came here—if only to add this to your roster of places to bring friends, who will hopefully appreciate this wonderful little Italian restaurant in the side of a Downtown office building as much as you do. Come Thursday through Saturday for the live jazz, and order the fazzoletti di formaggio e pera, which you will, unfortunately, have to end up sharing after your date tastes this great pear and ricotta pasta.

Miami can’t agree on a lot: speed limits, politics, and literally everything else. But Mandolin might just be the one thing the entire city can get behind. It’s beautiful, consistent, and delicious, all of which make it a very safe bet for a date—even if you don’t know (or have never met) the person you’re bringing here. You'll need a reservation (and you might have to make it a month out) to guarantee one of the coveted outdoor tables. Snagging a table for lunch is much easier though. If you're still not super comfortable with this person you're on a date with, split a whole grilled fish and avoid the heavier Greek plates that’ll have you smelling like a hunk of feta cheese and garlic that just ran a marathon.

So what if your parents went on their first date here? It’s stood the test of time, and it’s still where you bring someone you want to talk to for hours without interruption. The Gables classic is small, romantic, and gives you what every successful date needs: intimacy. With all the soundproofing in the dining room, you might forget you’re not the only couple in the restaurant listening to Italian love songs. Plus, you can order a bottle of wine, an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert for under $150. And the old school Italian food is delicious. 

For those dates when you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, but obviously still need to try just a little hard, go to Pinch. This Upper East Side spot is casual enough where your date won’t be scared that you’re about to propose, but they also serve consistently excellent food worthy of a special occasion. After a bite of the burger or spicy octopus, your date will be confident that you are the kind of person who knows where to find very good food, which might lead to marriage eventually—especially if you take them back for brunch when Pinch serves their massive guava-stuffed french toast.

Tropezón is a really fun gin and tapas bar on Española Way in South Beach. Just about every table in the restaurant is perfect for couples, the cocktails are outstanding, and the excellent tapas will give you something to snack on while you try your best to be charming. If you succeed in showcasing that charm and things go well, there's also a great nightcap spot within walking distance: El Salón. It's a dim cocktail bar where you can sip a martini while trying to contort your face muscles into a formation that could be considered "flirtatious."

Not only does Macchialina make some of the best pasta in Miami, but it’s also just a really romantic place to eat a meal, especially with their newish outdoor seating. While the indoor seating is dark and intimate, they have a pretty covered patio with a noise level that won’t require you to scream “spaghetti pomodoro” at your server three times in a row. Although you will probably be screaming when you taste the pasta here, which is stunningly good. If you're up for it, get as much dessert as you can fit in your stomach. It's always unbelievably good here.

NIU Kitchen is a Catalan spot that is one of our favorite restaurants in the entire city. It went through lots of changes during the pandemic, and ended up taking over the space that once housed its sister restaurant, Arson. But all you need to know is that it’s still a great place to bring someone who appreciates natural wine and a flawless pan con tomate. There are no shortage of outstanding dishes here, including things like cold tomato soup with mustard ice cream and the ous, a delicious bowl of poached eggs and truffled potato foam. Plus, it’s just a really lovely place to lazily hang out with a bottle of wine among stylish Miamians.

Ironside is a great low-stress option. The indoor space is very cute, with mismatched wooden furniture and an open kitchen where you can watch the pizzas get fed into the oven. But unless it’s unbearably hot, sit outside. It's really beautiful on their patio. The menu includes everything from a few salads to lasagna, but the Neapolitan pizzas are what you should focus on. One of the best parts about Ironside: it’s BYOB, which will make the tab a lot easier to pick up in case you’re feeling generous (or too awkward to ask if your date wants to split it).

You have to hand it to the French—they invented the world’s sexiest kiss. So when it comes to romance, they know what they’re doing. And it doesn’t get more French than Frenchie’s in Coral Gables. It’s casual enough for a first date and charming enough for a desperate couple that found a babysitter and could use a one-night vacation to Paris. This spot does a convincing Parisian impression with its chalkboard menu and seductive red lighting. Between courses, the parchment paper on the table reads like the tea leaves of a successful date—with oily trails of butter from tender escargot and a smattering of tangy steak tartare. Just bring a mint if you’re planning to practice your French with some kissing after dinner. 

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